Dena Cederquist, PhD, who died Nov. 9 in Palm Harbor, Fla., at age 97, is well remembered by her many friends in the Lansing area, particularly her colleagues in the Michigan State University Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and members of University Lutheran Church. A memorial service will be held at University Lutheran Church on Saturday, Jan 27 at 2 p.m. Memorial gifts may be made to University Lutheran Church or Community Volunteers for International Programs (CVIP).
Dr. Cederquist was born Sept. 29, 1910 in Madrid, Iowa. She attended Iowa State University where she received a B.S. degree in 1931. After working as a dietician at Monmouth Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, she returned to Iowa State and earned an M.S. in 1937. She taught at Kansas State College for four years and then enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin, where she received a Ph.D. in 1945.
She joined the Department of Foods and Nutrition (now Food Science and Human Nutrition) at Michigan State College as an assistant professor in 1944 and settled in just as the institution began to rapidly grow into a major research university. Cederquist rose to full professor and was appointed chairman of the department in 1956, a post she held until 1970. She continued as a professor until her retirement in 1977.
Well known on campus as an excellent lecturer, Cederquist also became a public figure in the early days of WKAR-TV when she pioneered a series called, “Food for Life.” In 1975, it was remade into a series of 20 half-hour color videos that were distributed to universities and television stations. She was also the author of many professional journal articles about nutrition research.
She received a number of major awards including the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award in 1964. It cited her as “an uncompromising foe of dishonesty in food advertising.” She also received the Iowa State University distinguished alumna award in home economics, an Inaugural Outstanding Dietitian Award from the Michigan Dietitics Association in 1967, the Medallion Award of the American Dietetics Association in 1977, and was recognized as an American Institute of Nutrition Fellow in 1988. In 1954-55, she served as president of Michigan Dietitics Association.
In her private life, Dr. Cederquist was a major figure in the life of University Lutheran Church. She was the first female president of the congregation (1971-72) and the first female liturgical deacon.
Her eyesight began to fail in the 1980s and in 1990 she moved to St. Mark Village in Palm Harbor. She was predeceased by two sisters, Esther Rogers and Tekla Olson and is survived by sister Ruth Larson and niece Linda Mullin, both of Des Moines.